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Aug292011

Review: "Remembering Gage Park"

Remembering Gage Park by William P. Shunas; self-published through Xlibris; copyright 2010. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and at www.Xlibris.com/Bookstore

Paperback $15.00-20.00. Kindle edition $7.69

Review by Kent McDaniel

A fictional memoir, Remembering Gage Park  begins: “I was eight years old when I met Connor. That was they day he nearly put out my eye. You would’ve thought I’d have learned something that day, but not me.” That hook imbedded, Shunas pauses to describe Chicago’s then-unpaved alleys, Gage Park’s turf protocols for eight-year-olds, and the workings of the Chicago Democratic Machine, before returning to his narrator’s fateful meeting with Connor. Intriguing stuff, and for the rest of the book Shunas continues to intersperse tense scenes with sharply-etched description of Gage Park: the streets, homes, gardens, stores, vacant lots, the people and their culture, the politics and economics. He tells all this through Mike Staron, a semi-tough Gage Park kid who grew up, got through college and did okay. Looking back now, Mike wastes few words and evinces an eye for detail and a hard-edged poetry to his voice. For some of us, our childhood neighborhood has a homely kind of magic, and Mike Staron’s description of his grade-school years beautifully nails that feeling. It’s similar to what Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine did for Waukegan, minus the sugar coating. 

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